Food & Drink

Local Wine Picks: Reds will complement steaks on the grill over Memorial Day

Planning to throw some meat on the grill this Memorial Day weekend? Then you’ll probably be in the market for a full-bodied red. Here are three bottles — two merlots and one cabernet — from Paso Robles wineries that you should consider.

If merlot is your preference, you won’t go wrong with the 2005 Robert Hall Merlot ($19). It’s an easy-to-drink red with ripe black cherry flavors, notes of mocha and spice, lively acidity and a smooth finish. It won’t overpower grilled chicken, but it will easily stand up to a burger or tri-tip.

Another good choice — albeit a more expensive one — is the 2004 Silver Stone Merlot ($37). The grapes for this big merlot are from Alamo Creek Vineyard in southern San Luis Obispo County, a fairly cool site. The wine is dense and firmly structured, with ripe black fruit, some spicy notes and a whisper of dill. Winemaker Dan Kleck thinks the wine will age well for many years, but I think it would also be a good companion to a juicy Porterhouse steak.

Cabernet sauvignon lovers who are ready for a bit of a splurge should try the 2004 J. Lohr Hilltop Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($32), from the highest block in Jerry Lohr’s Paso Robles vineyard. This plump reserve-level wine displays ripe black cherry flavors, notes of anise and spice and firm structure. Like the Silver Stone merlot, it will age for a few years, or you could drink it now with something hearty.

—Laurie Daniel